Thursday, September 29, 2005

Like Martin and Lewis

Normally I don't do this kind of thing, such cirumlocution hurts my brain, I unravel enough tortured logic from my under five crowd. What the hey, lemme take a shot. Jayson at Polipundit wants a translation of this statement by Reid and Pelosi.

"Today, exactly one month after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, Leader Reid and I are here to say that after a failed initial response to Katrina, the Bush Administration and Republican Leadership in Congress continue to fail to provide for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The priority of Republicans has been to help their friends at the expense of helping people. They are out of touch with the people of the Gulf Coast region who struggle to find housing, jobs, and schools for their children.

One month after the Bush Administration failed to envoke the Insurrection Act and usurp state power and brushing aside the abysmal failure of Blanco and Nagin; the devastated states have not miraculously been rebuilt. Housing, schools and business should all be rebuilt by now.

"Today, a month after the storm, less than a quarter of the relief money appropriated by Congress has reached the hundreds of thousands of families in need. Shamefully, 100,000 households have received absolutely no assistance from FEMA at all. The needs of the Katrina survivors - health care, housing, economic security and education - are not being met.

Less than a quarter of the relief money has been pissed away thru poor planning. Health care, housing, educationa and jobs already provided by other states and private citizens and organizations are not good enough for us. Survivors should suck at govermental teats!

"Meanwhile, the Katrina response remains plagued by cronyism; cronyism that gives jobs to the friends of the Bush Administration without qualifications for those jobs and cronyism that gives contracts to their corporate friends without bidding. In fact, in the days following Katrina, Republicans teamed up with Halliburton and other contractors to have a 'Katrina Reconstruction Summit' in the Hart Senate Building to help government contractors profit from relief funds. Shouldn't this be under different auspices?

We may have a genuine point with "Brownie" and Halliburton sounds scary. Companies large enough to handle large scale rebuilding of infrastructure are good targets to rally our base with.

"In terms of health care, instead of cutting red tape to help victims get the health care they need, the White House is pursuing a confusing and limited bureaucratic approach that leaves many survivors without access to care at all. Democrats support a bipartisan, simple, and fair solution to cut red tape and allow Medicaid to provide temporary health care coverage to survivors in whatever state they are living in now.

Medicaid is our pet project and we don't like this talk of funding rebuilding with money that Medicaid might eat up. Universal Healthcare would solve this problem!

"In terms of housing, a full three weeks after Katrina hit, fewer than 13,000 of the 200,000 families in need of housing assistance have received any assistance at all. Victims need housing now. We cannot allow families to continue to live in emergency shelters. Democrats have proposed using emergency housing vouchers to get people in homes immediately, and we support funding for construction and repair of affordable housing in the disaster area to ensure families have homes in the long- term.

Rita? That wasn't really a storm. Putting people in mobile homes in a flood and hurricane zone with another Cat 4 on the way is a smart idea.

"In terms of economic security, instead of giving hope to the families of Katrina and now Rita, that have been hard hit in this area, the Bush Administration is making it harder for Hurricane victims to make ends meet. Instead of paying the prevailing wage, which is standard for the region, they have waived that requirement so contractors can pay a lower wage. Poverty was central to some of the tragedy, and instead of alleviating poverty, this Administration, by Presidential decree, has said they can pay a lower wage to these workers to rebuild the area.

"Democrats want to give people the opportunities and security they need to rebuild their lives - by requiring federal contractors pay prevailing wage, increasing and extending Unemployment Insurance benefits, and ensuring that the burden does not fall upon hard-hit states by providing 100 percent federal funding.

We want to make it as costly as possible for employers to rebuild down there. Never mind that relaxing regulations is the surest way to get companies to hire there and not write those states as to costly to do business in. Taxpayers should pay it all. Americans are not taxed enough.

"In terms of education, rather than helping get children back to school, the Bush Administration is using this tragedy to advance its controversial agenda for education vouchers. The Gulf Coast Region is no place for political opportunism or ideological experimentation.

"Democrats instead, have proposed a comprehensive plan to get children back to school by providing resources and assistance to school districts and by providing student loans for relief.

Louisiana Democrats are known for opportunism and and the Crecent City was was the product of OUR ideological experimentation, we don't want that to change. School vouchers might give everyone a chance to put their kids in a school that works for them, upsetting unions we are beholden for votes to. Please don't make the unions mad.

"Republicans in Washington D.C. are plagued by a culture of corruption. An ethical cloud hangs over the Capitol. The House Republican Leader has been indicted, the Senate Republican Leader is under investigation, the President's chief political adviser is under investigation, the White House's chief procurement officer was arrested last week, and the web that entangles the Republicans in the House, the Senate, and in the White House, Jack Abramoff, has been investigated and indicted. This culture or corruption must stop.

Make hay out of DeLay, and we will allude to Rove but not name him because we are not protected in a salt circle. Never mind corruption in the Democratic side of the aisle.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Am a Leaf on the Wind - Non Spoiler Review of Serenity

I saw a screening of Serenity, the new Firefly movie last night. Living here on the island, it was a drive to get into the City to see it but it was definately worth the 2 1/2 hours each way. Thanks to Ted at Grace Hill Media for giving me good advice on the phone about how early to get there and reassuring this rabid fan that she was actually on the press list.

I have been a fan since FOX first aired the show and was really upset when they cancelled the show. I listen to the Signal Podcast and own the DVDs, the Dear Husband and I have made some converts. We own the Dark Horse comics - I had high expectations of the movie which were more than met.

When DH and I reached the theater, there was a HUGE line of folks snaked around the lobby, circling up and down stairs and a bunch of theater employees girding up to tell waiting fans decked out in costume that the theater was full. I scuttled over to the Universal Picture representative, got my hand stamped and breezed into the theater. I was still in shock to not have to cool my heels in line. The theater they set aside for the screenings was small, 150 seats and half full already. It was an hour before showtime and they at last let the line come in. The remainder of the time before the show was filled with the giddy crowd singing the theme song and "Hero of Canton", punctuated by theater personell doing seat counts and urging people to not try to save seats.

At last the movie started. First off a preview for Doom. Cheers for the Rock, wolf whistles for Karl Urban, the jazz up crowd applauded at the end of the preview. Quick recap of the show and characters, if you are familiar with them you might want to skim this part.

Firefly followed the crew of the Serenity, a ship that serves outer planets as a smuggler, transport, mercenary muscle and whatever other paying job they can get. Low profile is the byword. Mal Reynolds, the captain, is a angry, weary man who just wants to live and fly. He has never gotten over losing out to the Alliance government when the outer worlds vainly rebelled. Zoe, his old army buddy is his number 2, less bitter than Mal. She is the one person he will listen to. Wash is Serenity's pilot and married to Zoe. His light heartedness is what balances Zoe, and keeps her from being as emotionally isolated as Mal. Jayne Cobb is the ship's mercenary muscle. A man with few morals, Jayne is none the less handy in a fight, and never questions the ethics of what they do. Kaylee is the ship's engineer, warm hearted as everyone else is reserved, Kaylee first concern is for people. Kaylee carries a torch for Simon. Simon, the ship's doctor is a fugitive from the Alliance after rescuing his sister from a secret experiemental facility. Born to wealth and privilege he is often at odds with Mal. River, Simon's sister, has been driven insane by the experimental tests. She has a hard time discerning reality from what is in her head. Inara, leases a shuttle on Serenity and is essentially a geisha and prostitute. Shephard Book is a preacher who left his monastary to find a flock to pastor. He decided that Mal needs his attention more than anyone.

In the Dark Horse comics which bridge the TV series and the movie, Inara and Book both leave Serenity. Inara, because she has fallen in love with Mal and both of them are too defensive to move a relationship forward; Book because Mal has baited him beyond control and he needs some time to reground himself.

The Movie. The movie is a resolution of a couple of storylines from the TV show, primarily the Simon and River Tam fugitive story. Joss Whedon, the show's creator, manages to make the movie accessable to non fans with about 3 minutes of setting up the universe. It doesn't feel like exposition because at the end of that three minutes it jumpstarts the plot in an intense way.

Bad guys are introduced. First there is the government operative who is sent off after the Tams. He is Zen badness. He knows what he does is evil, knows he is bad but believes the end justifies the means. It was a bit disconcerting to watch the government scientist who was experimenting on River and realize I knew him as the high strung Busy Bee dog owner from Best in Show. Still, he was immediately overshadowed by the Operative.
A little while later we meet the other baddies from the movie, Reavers. Reavers are the boogie men. People who have gone nuts and turn psychopathic. They kill indiscrimately, are cannibals, they don't flee, have no fear, and are big into mutilating themselves and others. Blech! I didn't expect the Operative. In the TV show, River is being chased by some seriously creepy guys in blue gloves, I expected them in the movie. Perhaps Whedon is saving them for a sequel, if there is one. Still, the bad guys in the movie were sufficient.

Simon and Mal fight over whether or not River is going to help in heists. She has been engineered to be an assassin but is unpredictable. Simon is for sheltering River completely, Mal wants her to pull her weight. Simon decides to leave Serenity, but there are complications. Mal has to decide, are Simon and River part of his crew and under his protection or are they not? Mal is like a junkyard dog protecting "his people".

Joss Whedon is not shy about killing people off or hurting them badly. This is a hankie film. The fans at the theater laughed, gasped, cried and cheered within the space of minutes many times during the movie. There are alot of surprises in the movie, which I will write about in another post. I will definately see this once again.

Check out IMAO for Frank J's review.

UPDATE: Instalanche! Hooyah! I will be doing a spoiler review after opening weekend. Please check back. Also please feel free to browse around. I am a sci-fi/fantasy fan and talk about books and movies. Also see here for my post on Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just Got Back

From the Serenity screening in the City. I will post a non-spoiler review and blog about the experience tomorrow when I get the chance (after I hear the exaltations of praise about Grammy from the kids) and then after the movie premieres and those who might kill me for giving away goodies, I will post a with spoiler review. No, I didn't wear a Jayne Hat, but I did know the lyrics to all the songs sung before the movie starts.

Not Long

In about an hour and a half I will be wending my way to downtown Seattle to catch a sneak peek of Serenity, the new Firefly flick. Aside from the sheer joy of going out in the evening for a change (thanks Mom! For the marathon babysit!) it promises to be a excellent movie.

Just when I thought I could not revel in nerdiness more, Jim Treacher linked to this interview between Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman. I am in nerd heaven. Plus, Whedon talks about Wonder Woman who was an icon of my kidhood.

JW: In my head, it's the finest film ever not typed yet. It's incredible fun, partially because I was never actually a huge fan. I never really felt there was . . . there's been some great work, but never one definitive run on the book for her, and I'm not a fan of the show. I feel like I'm taking an icon I already know and creating it for the first time.

NG: She's such a character without a definitive story. Or even without a definitive version.

JW: That's how I feel. I hope to change that because I really feel her. Let's face it: She's an Amazon, and she will not be denied.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Quick! Lay Down

The weekend was host to an univited guest- a nasty cold. It started off as a tickle in the back of the throat and roared in. Ten minutes later my head felt like it was underwater. I uncapped the nyquil and took a dose. I was unprepared for it to knock me on my hind end. As a very occasional drinker, taking a dose of nyquil is like doing shots of tequila, the world swims.

So the weekend devolved into an drunken haze, with periods of lucidity. On Saturday, I stumbled out of bed and threw together water, bay leaves, and the leftover carcass of a roast chicken. With the beginnings of the Mom's cure-all cooking away, I promised myself to chop vegetables when I wouldn't cut off my fingers.

Opting to not breathe, I left Dear Husband with the two elder children and went to watch my sister, mother and father test for their Sonkyu, Yonkyu, and Gokyu Aikido levels respectively. When my sister threw three attackers at a time at the end of her test, I was waiting for the pan flutes to begin. (Bruce Lee) "Emotional content - not anger!" (/Bruce Lee)

Sunday, we stayed home from church and I watched my husband bop around doing chores, inspired by the incipient cool weather. The Infant began to snarfle with a stuffy nose but after marathon late night cuddling, this morning she is back to her natural congenial self.

The Titanic clash over the Muralist ingesting her medicine or the Mystery of the Missing Kleenex is for another time, dear readers.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hot Chocolate and Shaped Marshmallows

Cool weather is beginning to hit the island, the wind, instead of refreshing, nips now. So it's time to pull out and dust off recipes for warm treats. What could be more congenial than hot chocolate? Real hot chocolate, not the powdered stuff. (yes, I use the powdered stuff too but life can afford better than that.)

Hot Chocolate

Pour chocolate syrup into bottom of cup: 1/2 ounce for every 8 oz of milk. Warm milk to 165-170 degrees. Pour over chocolate syrup slowly swirling the cup at the beginning to melt and integrate chocolate well. I recommend a bittersweet dark chocolate.

Shaped Marshmallows

2 tablespoons plain gelatin
2/3 cups light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour 1/2 cup of cold water into a bowl and add gelatin. Let sit 5 minutes. While gelatin is sitting prep a rimmed cookie sheet by spraying with cooking spray, lining with parchment paper and spraying again. I know this seems like overkill but let's face it - we have a really sticky recipe here.

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil, then stir occasionally until it reaches soft-ball stage (or 238 degrees on a candy thermometer). Pull from heat.

Start mixing the gelatin on low then slowly pour in the boiling syrup mixture. Gradually increase the mixer speed until mixture is thick and white and trebled in volume. Add vanilla and mix another few seconds to combine. Pour onto parchment lined pan and let cool at room temperature at least 4 hours. (I'd do this part the night before and punch out the shapes in the morning.) Punch out shapes with a cooking spray coated cookie cutter. (I am eyeing a cute pumpkin shaped cutter now.)

You can substitute any flavor you want for vanilla to change the flavor profile. Orange or Coffee would be delish although not as popular with the kid crowd. Try coating them in colored sugar crystals, for a Peep-like treat. If you want to store them put a light dusting of cornstarch on them, to discourage sticking.

Disclaimer: I stole most of the marshmallow recipe from The Martha from her magazine a few years ago.


I like the new Battlestar Galactica and I liked Star Trek (mostly), but the Boston Globe scorns Firefly on it's list of all time best TV Sci-Fi. The orginal Trek gets the number one slot and BSGalactica (new one) gets number 2 but Firefly? The movie was greenlighted because of studio dorks realized there was a huge fan base, the DVDs have consistently been in the Amazon top 50 ranking and the Boston Gobe gives it 17. 17?! What other shows beat this gem? Stargate SG1, Xena, and here's a mortal hit- Star Trek Voyager. Ugh!

I knew the Boston Globe smoked crack but now I have the proof. Slide on over to Jeff Harrel's and read his post on the subject. He's mostly cranked over Galactica being in the number two spot.

Oink, Oink part Deux

It's telling that Porkbusters has gotten little response from our elected officials. Politicians can't loosen thier grip on OUR money, even to spend it in a different way. "Aw, we wanted to buy Chocolate Coated Sugar squares not Shredded Wheat!" After spending responsibly is not as fun.

My Senators and Representative are still mute. Not so much a surprise in Senator Murray, who always has the longest response time, but Senator Cantwell's office usually is on top of things and has same day turn around.

Ian Schwartz at Political Teen has video of Porkbusters being picked up on CNN.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Dad,

I promise I will not buy you Hummels or ponchos, but I also promised Mom I would not get you Battlestar Galatica season one. I can't help it she's prejudiced against a woman Starbuck.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Oink, Oink

Glenn Reynolds and NZ Bear are taking Congress at it's word and identifying pork to cut to help offset costs associated with Hurrican Katrina. I have emailed Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Rick Larsen and hope to hear back. Both Cantwell and Larsen are usually pretty prompt replying so I hope to have a reply soon.

The Asparagus money has already been earmarked by Josh's Weblog. So I am going to take aim at this little gem:

$17,160,000 for projects in the state of Senate appropriator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and the districts of House appropriators George Nethercutt, Jr. (R-Wash.) and Norm Dicks (D-Wash.): $8,200,000 for the Fort Lewis Army Chapel (which offers diverse services for Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even Wiccans); $6,970,000 for Phase I of the lab consolidation at Bangor Naval Base; and $1,990,000 for a dangerous materials storehouse at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

I'm all for church for soldiers, but 8 million bucks? I don't think so. The Navy stuff I don't know enough to complain about but labs and dangerous materials require research.

National Talk Like a Pirate Day

The Verbalist has been waiting for this for a while, or as he is known in Pirate Circles: Smugglin' Norm Grimm.

He is currently drawing up plans for rocket powered cannons. We will be watching Captain Blood later today, the uber movie pirate, Errol Flynn. I do have a soft spot of Yul Brynner as a pirate in the Buccaneer.

How could I forget? Here's Pirate's Cove.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Christianity and Society I

I have been reviewing a number of books lately that seem to be interwoven. At least, buying their arguements gives you a prism to view how current events play out. The first book is the timeless Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Basic Christianity it could be called, what we believe beneath the factions of doctrine. If you read no other commentary on Christianity, this is the one to read. Even as a Christian of some 26 years and may Bible studies later, Lewis is able to clearly communicate Christian truths that I have half understood or articulated.

The second is The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. It is subtitled: An American Prophecy: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny. This book looks at generational dynamics and their roles in the cycle of US history, how those roles effect the next generation and societal bonds and what the authors envision the next generation to compass.

The third is Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Post-Modern World by Robert E. Webber. Webber examines Classical Christianity, "catholic" small c, and how they shaped their message and how they functioned in a pagan and relativistic society similar to society today. He asks the question: How do we as Christians tailor our message so it can best be received in the post modern world that views truth as relative?

What do we believe? How is our generational dynamic effecting our society and how will it influence the next generation? How will this effect the tangible and the day to day? How can we effectively communicate what we believe so that it resonates and captures the "gut" of our fellows, our children, our world? As I try to synthesize a coherent answer to these questions I will post in the following weeks my thought process.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Chow Mein

Wondering about what recipe to blog about and I suddenly thought about how good chow mein sounds. This is by no means authentic Chinese, nope this American to it's bones - what do you do with odds and ends.

1 big handful of thin spaghetti noodles (rice noodles if you have got them)
1/2 cup peas (snap peas, sugar peas are best)
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup peeled sliced water chestnuts
1 can of sliced bamboo shoots
1 cup cooked chicken or chinese BBQ pork sliced
1/2 cup shredded cabbage
Any other vegetable that sounds good
1 minced garlic clove
soy sauce
1/8 tsp ginger
sesame oil
cayenne pepper

Parboil noodles and drain. Heat sesame oil in pan and sautee garlic then add and sautee noodles. Add meat, bamboo, water chestnuts and carrots. Add soy sauce, continue to toss ingredients in hot pan until coated with soy sauce. Add dash of cayenne. Toss. Add cabbage and pea pods. Remove from heat. Cabbage and pea pods should be just warm. If you add more veggies add them in according to soft/hard rule. If they are soft add with peas, if they are hard add with carrots. Enjoy!

Thanks Basil for the link! Please check out the Carnival of Recipes this week at Trub.

Churches and Small Government

In her column today Peggy Noonan says:

The Republican Party right now is torn. It has muscle tears you can't see when you look at the body of the party, but they are there, and deepening. In the natural scheme of things the party would fight out its big issues in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Now I suspect the fight will begin sooner. And that's good.

There's much on the table that has to be addressed--immigration, spending, the size of government--including the very nature and purpose of modern conservatism. Getting serious about these questions will be helpful to the country, and helpful to those who begin this overdue heavy lifting. Why shouldn't the president summon forth, ask the help of and highlight the presence of the governors, congressmen and senators who will soon enough be trying to run the party themselves? They're coming anyway. Why not invite them? And work with them. And, as a side benefit, subtly get a little of the heat off your dramatic self?

The Democratic Party becomes increasingly captive to the socialists and the anti-America crowd. It is in a death spiral and I don't think it is likely to pull out. This is bad because the GOP needs to be questioned so that it doesn't become complacent. Frequent sparring keeps you in better shape than eating cheese doodles and drinking beer. It's like Evander Holyfield thinking he would always patty-cake with a truculent toddler.

So here is Peggy Noonan saying there is a deep tear in the GOP. I have said before that the nation hungers for a reformer. If there is a split in the Republican party it will not be on social grounds but along small vs. big government lines. Reforming education, immigration, cutting spending, reining in judicial overreach, most of all placing power back with people deciding what is best for thier communities.

Churches are about communities. The church can best influence social issues in communities. Only by listening and hearing arguements from people they trust will people change how they feel about social issues. That means you, not some distant legislative body. IF federal government shrinks, it will be up to local communities to decide how to tackle social issues that is where churches can be effective. That is why a party break will not occur on social lines. If we believe that social issues are bound in morality and we believe the best persuader, the best witness is the individual, than churches will fall behind small government.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Children of Men

When I saw this I did a little mental jig of joy. (ht: Beryl)

C harlie Hunnam is in negotiations to join Alfonso Cuaron's SF movie The Children of Men for Strike Entertainment and Universal Pictures, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Clive Owen and Julianne Moore already have been cast in the film adaptation of the book by P.D. James.

Marc Abraham and Eric Newman are producing for Strike Entertainment, while Hilary Shor is producing for Hit & Run Prods.

The story is set in the near future, when mankind has lost the ability to reproduce, and the world is rocked by the news that the world's youngest person, who is 18, has died.

Hunnam will play Patric, a young rebel member of the Five Fishes group, which is trying to incite chaos, the trade paper reported.

I really enjoyed the book by PD James. The book follows Theo Farron, an Oxford don, in a near future when the human race has stopped having children; not just stopped, unable to have children. James, better known for her Adam Dagliesh mystery series, brilliantly portrays what children mean to society. What happens when hope is taken away and what happens when people are confronted with the loss of something that they marginalized until it was gone.

Whenever I read about the population vacuum of European countries my mind flashes to this book. When I read this story about the reimergence of wild creatures, the parallels leapt to my mind. As native populations in European countries dwindle, lands that have for long centuries sustained men are no longer used.

In her book James writes thru Theo Farron:
"Some European countries began to pursue a vigorous campaign t o encourage the birth of children, but most of us thought the fall was desirable, even necessary. We were polluting the planet with our numbers; if we were breeding less it was to be welcomed. Most of the concern was less about a falling population than about the wish of nations to maintain their own people, their own culture, their own race, to breed sufficient young to maintain their economic structures. But as I remember it, no one suggested that the fertility of the human race was dramatically changing. When Omega came it came with dramatic suddenness and was received with incredulity."

I do hope that this a faithful adaptation of the book. If Clive Owen (Arthur in 2004's King Arthur) is slated as Theo and Julianne Moore is cast opposite him as Julian that is a step in the right direction. Let us hope they have the courage to explore the themes of the book instead of minimalizing them for a shoot 'em up.


Yes, congrats to the Senate Judiciary Windbags, um, Committee. They have at last made me distrustful of John Roberts. Why? Because he never seemed to break from looking sincere, earnest and interested all thru thier incessant droning. It's inhuman. I do mean incessant.
Ankle Biting Pundits does the math.

That's another thing. These people talk for a living, you'd think that they'd at least be able to make tonal inflections.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Do You Know America?

I often see RVs as I drive around the island. You see retirees with those US maps stuck to the side of thier rigs, states visited have colored stickers affixed to show their progress. My trivial and pendantic mind always wants to know how they drove to Hawaii. I mean obviously they didn't drive, but did they really go to the expense of shipping their rig there?

Someone I read, (Lileks?) pointed out that Americans often don't travel out of country because there are so many places in country to visit. The United States is large, huge: each state could be it's own contained little country, it is resource rich and Americans take it for granted. Bill Bryson says that Americans don't blink at driving a hundred miles for a taco. That may be hyperbole but not far from the truth. Americans are used to the vastness of the country.

Megan McArdle of Asymmetrical Information swats at an Irish native who doesn't understand the vastness of the US or the reality of her nature. From Crooked Timber:
Growing up comfortably middle class in Ireland in the early 1980s, I found it almost unbelievable that T.V. Americans seemed to drink orange joice every day when we had it just for Christmas, went shopping just for fun and could afford to keep their enormous fridges constantly full.

Ms. McArdle responds:
Nor did we ever really have orange juice every day because we have cheap oil; orange juice was a daily treat for at least middle-class Americans before WWII. We have orange juice every day because we have orange trees in our country, a transportation network that can deliver it without crossing an ocean, and a population rich enough to buy it. The Irish population, on the other hand, didn't have those thinks, so they had milk instead.

She then characterizes this as quibbling and goes on to debunk the rest of the more substantive points including the laughable parallel drawn between the South's hurricane victims and the genocide in Darfur. It was the throwaway orange juice line that caught my eye. You see, it never occured to me that a person wouldn't have orange juice unless they belonged to a closed communist country under sanctions or the truly poor who cannot afford food in third world nations.

How alien indeed does this make the citizens and subjects of Ireland. Americans seem to think that Europeans understand the scope of our country, they do not. Americans seem to think that other nations have the same resources, the same room, the same cheerfulness, the same gumption that characterizes Americans across our country. Ireland is Idaho with more beer and sexier accents, except it isn't. They both might have alot of potato recipes but world perceptions are vastly different and it isn't just the big things but the little things too.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Waking Up

It's the 4 year anniversary. Winds of Change provides the best collection of essays, stories and remembrances. For myself, I can clearly recall that bright September morning. My new son, from the beginnings always an early riser, had slept in and therefore I had also. I rose to a beautiful morning, opening the windows and curtains to let in the crisp breeze whistling in off the Sound. I had marveled at the clarity, no mist lingered on the water to obscure the view of the Olympics and decided to forgo morning news. On such a beautiful day I did not want to think about crime, politics, or what food researchers may have found contributes to hair loss, heart seizures, or whatever. Evening news was sure to contain a shark attack story but I figured I could suffer with it not to ruin my morning.

The phone rang. It was my husband, from his office in the city. Without preamble he asked, "Do you have the news on?"

"What? No, why?"

"Someone crashed a plane into one of the Twin Towers."

"You are kidding!" I knew he wasn't, but I was having trouble wrapping my mind around it. I turned on the TV just in time to see the second plane crash. I irrationally thought of Tom Clancy's book and was sure that the Capital Building and the White House were smoking ruins. I don't remember hanging up with my husband. If fact, the next thing I really remember was coming to myself tears streaming down my cheeks holding my son as close as I could. I turned from the horror on the TV and stood and stared back out into that incomparably beautiful morning and prayed for the nation, the President, most of all those souls in New York and thier family.

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dinosaurs Must Smash

The Muralist and the Verbalist crouched over a puzzle. They had gotten double prizes in their kid meals and the puzzle was part of their loot. (The others, a second puzzle and two Weebles enter into this tale later.) We had repaired home where I was putting away groceries from our twice monthly larder stocking. They sat sucking down frosty mugs of milk and apple slices as they pondered the placement of pieces.

"Mommmmmm!" at last wailed the Verbalist. "This is too hard!"

"No it's not," I breezily assured them from the depths of the pantry. "Keep trying. Just look at the picture." I was immersed in a pitched battle with laziness: sort the pantry or just shove things on a shelf and get to the next chore? Shoving was winning over sorting.

"But Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!" interjected the Muralist loudly into my silent struggles. "You need to see!" I reached a compromise with myself, as I do every shopping expedition, and roughly sorted cereals, cans, staples, kid staples.

"It just doesn't work, it's too hard," repeated the Verbalist ad nauseam as I sat down to look at the puzzle. He had gotten a good start: there were letters along the bottom edge and they had completed an "L" including both bottom corners. I tried a couple combinations. Hmmm this was harder than I thought. Realization dawned.

"Hey! This puzzle is two sided!" I announced. Seeing looks of partial comprehention I explained. "There is a different picture on each side of each piece."

"Ohhhh" they chorused, after which they assembled it without too much difficulty. Retreating to the loot pile the Muralist retreived the Weebles. "Smash! Smash! No tricking!"

"No! You'll ruin it!" screeched the Verbalist ineffectively grabbing at Weebles.

"These are Dinosaurs!" retorted the Muralist infusing the word with the essence of Capitalization. "Dinosaurs must smash and that puzzle is naughty!"

Making Constituents Proud?

Well, once again a Washington politician rears his ugly head. Rep. Jim McDermott (D) voted "no" on House Resolution 427. Popularly known as "Baghdad Jim", for allowing himself to be used as a propagandist by the Ba'ath regime and then found to have received money from a Hussien apologist, McDermott voted "no" on the resolution which states:

    Whereas on September 11, 2001, while Americans were attending to their daily routines, terrorists hijacked four civilian aircraft, crashing two of them into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and a third into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth was prevented from also being used as a weapon against America by brave passengers who placed their country above their own lives;

    Whereas four years later the country continues to, and shall forever, mourn the tragic loss of life at the hands of terrorist attackers;

    Whereas by targeting symbols of American strength and success, these attacks clearly were intended to assail the principles, values, and freedoms of the United States and the American people, intimidate the Nation, and weaken the national resolve;

    Whereas four years after September 11, 2001, the United States is fighting a Global War on Terrorism to protect America and her friends and allies;

    Whereas recent deadly attacks in London, Madrid, and Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, remind all Americans that the forces of evil that attacked the Nation four years ago remain committed to terrorist attacks against free peoples;

    Whereas because of the skill and bravery of the members of the United States Armed Forces and due to the constant vigilance of our Nation’s first responders, the United States homeland has not been successfully attacked by terrorist forces during the four years since September 11, 2001; and

    Whereas while the passage of four years has not softened the memory of the American people, resolved their grief, or restored lost loved ones, it has shown that Americans will not bow to terrorists: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

    (1) extends again its deepest sympathies to the thousands of innocent victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, their families, friends, and loved ones;


    honors the heroic actions and the sacrifices of United States military and civilian personnel and their families who have sacrificed much, including their lives and health, in defense of their country in the Global War on Terrorism;


    honors the heroic actions of first responders, law enforcement personnel, State and local officials, volunteers, and others who aided the innocent victims and, in so doing, bravely risked their own lives and long-term health;


    expresses thanks and gratitude to the foreign leaders and citizens of all nations who have assisted and continue to stand in solidarity with the United States against terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;


    discourages, in the strongest possible terms, any effort to confuse the Global War on Terrorism with a war on any people or any faith;


    reaffirms its commitment to the Global War on Terrorism and to providing the United States Armed Forces with the resources and support to wage it effectively and safely;


    vows that it will continue to take whatever actions necessary to identify, intercept, and disrupt terrorists and their activities; and


    reaffirms that the American people will never forget the sacrifices made on September 11, 2001, and will never bow to terrorist demands.

That's got to make his constituents proud, oh wait, these are the same folks who have erected a statue to Lenin. It will make them proud. (ht: James Taranto)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Braided Raisin Loaf

I love Indian Summer. Warm Days, cool nights here on the island we have mist from the sea rolling in early and headed out late. You see it move up the Sound like wall and ships disappear before your eyes. This kind of weather makes me want to either get up early and bake or stay in bed under cozy covers and read my book. Since I gave birth to an abominably early riser, the stay in bed part is relegated to fantasy land except on rare occasions.

My sister is hooked on this braided raisin loaf from a place down the road from her. I had some and I can see why she loves it. Got me thinking though: that shouldn't be too hard. So here's the deal: I am going to make some for our church's free oil change for women and seniors BUT I am kind of throwing together two recipes I think will work and have actually made this myself. Will some enterprising soul make this and drop me a line or post a comment on friday?

Braided Raisin Loaf

1 tsp dry active yeast
4 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp butter
1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup raisins
1 tbsp cinnamon

Soak raisins in hot water for 1/2 hour until they replump. Combine yeast, milk and sugar until it activates then add remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly. Let rise, seperate into three parts and let rise again. Roll into fat logs and braid together. Place on parchment paper and brush egg white on top. Bake at 350 until dark golden.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Local Government and disasters

If you have not read it, go over to Right Wing Nut House and read his Hurricane Katrina timeline. It is an illuminating and essential tool to distinguish truth from fiction in the media fueled blame game surrounding disaster relief.

The following is a timeline that details the response of local, state, and federal authorities to the disaster in New Orleans.

I have not included any information for other areas hit by the storm.

I used one source almost exclusively – the online editions of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (hereinafter referred to as TP). I daresay the paper will receive a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage. (9/6): More sources have been used as they have become available.

IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO PLAY THE “BLAME GAMEBY PUBLISHING THIS TIMELINE.. In fact, if you have a link to a story that contradicts or adds to this timeline, I urge you to send it along. My sole purpose is to place this timeline on the record to dispel the rumors, the spin, and the outright falsehoods being flung about by both right and left bloggers and pundits.

The timeline runs from Friday, August 26 to Friday September 2

My own arguement has been: to see where failure lies, compare Louisiana with Mississippi. True, New Orleans has special circumstances, it sits in a below sea level bowl, but disaster is disaster and how people respond matters.

Read it? Good now go read protein wisdom. (uh, Jeff usually isn't hesitant about blue language FYI)
Which shows not the failure of federalism, but rather that local elections have material (and potentially dire) consequences. And if we don’t make that case over and over again, I fear MORE federal control, where less federal control—and better local preparation—is the answer.

Am I happy that FEMA is wrapped up in DHS? No. But that particular bureaucratic misstep is bi-partisan—the product of Senators from both parties wishing to show that they were doing something in the wake of 911. And I’ll be happy if the structural flaws of having increased bureaucratic layers are exposed and remedied as a result of this disaster. But that’s for later.

A smaller government is a more agile government. In Fantasia, "Dance of the Hours" is so hilarious because of the juxtaposition of large lumbering creatures treated as lithe, airy dancers. Large, byzantine beauracracies do not predicate speed of response. Louisiana state and local government lended itself to incompetence precisely because of over complexity.

Our country is a union of fractious governments, some states were countries of thier own before joining the union. My grandma came west from Oklahoma and retired back there. She related a story of sitting on her porch watching a tornado blow past. Another time her congregation did not notice tornado warning bells while they sat in church on a Sunday morning. I listened to this stories in amazement, I felt the same wide eyed disbelief at reports that folks wouldn't evacuate in the face of a Cat 4 hurricane. (Yes, I am aware that there was an unusually high percentage of uncarred individuals in NO) When Mt. St. Helens was rumbling again I was more entertained than alarmed. It is the nature of people to think that thier regional danger du jour is not as dangerous as it is because they are familiar with it. This is both the strength and danger of local goverment, local governments are made up of well, locals. We can know the danger down to the ground but we don't always have urgency about it.
UPDATE: Thanks Basil for the link! If you didn't come from there, please go and check him out, always cool links that some of the big boys miss. (Like mine!)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Diaspora

Beryl asks:
Are we seeing the beginning of a new diaspora, a group of self-identified ex-patriots from the Crescent City? What stories will rise from the sorrows and anguish of this event? How will these people carry the culture of New Orleans with them?

I think, inevitably, this is so. The Big Easy will rise again, Americans are loathe to accept defeat or failure and to leave the city in ruins would be both. Still, it will be a New New Orleans. Her citizens will comprise of some Family - those whose roots stretch back to French trappers, some Soul - the artists who wish to recapture the spirit, the music, the food, the ineffable, and some Heart - the entrepenuers who will rebuild a vigorous seaport vital for the nation.

The Family, Soul and Heart will not be comprised wholly or even mostly of former residents. Business men, lawyers, engineers, painters, preachers, musicians will flock to rebuild her. Some will return to homes they fled, but the challenge to restore her to glory will be those with a new vision not the heartsick whose hope was washed away.

So what of those who will establish a new life elsewhere? This is the Diaspora. They will adapt and bring with them traditions, language, music, recipes - a zydeco of peoples taking the fast and slow, the high and low all of thier new homes and incorporating it into the rhythms of Old New Orleans.

Why will she be rebuilt? Stratfor (via Decision '08) argues that the Cresent City must rise because of her port.
But it was not the extraordinary land nor the farmers and ranchers who alone set the process in motion. Rather, it was geography -- the extraordinary system of rivers that flowed through the Midwest and allowed them to ship their surplus to the rest of the world. All of the rivers flowed into one -- the Mississippi -- and the Mississippi flowed to the ports in and around one city: New Orleans. It was in New Orleans that the barges from upstream were unloaded and their cargos stored, sold and reloaded on ocean-going vessels. Until last Sunday, New Orleans was, in many ways, the pivot of the American economy.

These folks make thier living assessing these matters so I would not bet money against it. I wonder though if it might be best to gamble on the Ports of South Louisiana and Baton Rouge. Already those ports, the other two sisters of the trinity that included the port of New Orleans, handled more tonnage than New Orleans. How cost prohibitive would it be to deepen to the river and support more traffic? Could Shreveport expand to handle the traffic not absorbed by S. Louisiana and Baton Rouge? I might be talking out my ear, but so vital a port in so precarious a situation, I would feel better with as small a national economic stake sitting in a bowl under Lake Ponchitrain. Tom Maguire thinks it'll be one of the political spectacle of our century.

Donald Sensing says that New Orleans must be rebuilt and quotes Ol' Tin Ear Hassert. Sensings final thoughts though are for the Soul of New Orleans and not it's industrial Heart.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Carnival of Recipes

Is hosted at Glittering Eye this week. Check it out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Basalmic Vinagrette and Pasta Salad

Quick recipe this week, I have been out running around today and have just enough time to dash this off.

1/3 cup basalmic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
4 tsp fresh chopped basil
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
dash salt

blend in blender 30 sec. keep in 'fridge until ready to use. shake before use. This is heavenly over fresh radishes. Something about the bite. Makes an excellect dressing to pasta salad. In fact:

2 lbs cooked chilled pasta
6-7 red radishes medallioned
1 cup large black or kalamata olives
1 large cucumber peeled, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
basalmic vinagrette

toss together until well coated. Yum!